“THE MANNER OF DEATH HAS BEEN RULED A HOMICIDE.”
MARILYN MOSBY, MARYLAND STATE’S ATTORNEY, GETS IT RIGHT
The six police officers who arrested Freddie Gray have been charged with manslaughter and murder among a host of other crimes. In a shocking announcement yesterday around noon, Marilyn Mosby the 35 year old Baltimore State’s Attorney recently elected to her post, stated that there was probable cause to indict the officers and would send the indictments to a Prosecutor who will determine the eventual outcome of the charges by the State’s Attorney. Not only have the six officers been charged with numerous crimes, Mosby also determined that there was no probable cause for the arrest of Freddie Gray on April 12 one week before he died.
I remember hearing an interview with Mosby on NPR late last summer while she was running for election to the office she now holds. She sounded intelligent, articulate, and was very much passionate about the idea of restoring the integrity to the justice system. She has kept her word. I suppose, depending on how all of this ends up, this could be a career-making or a career-breaking move on her part. Since her family includes several police officers, one would suspect that she’s quite familiar with the mechanizations of the police department. One could assume that she’s also aware of how individual police officers, police hierarchies and police unions tend to protect their own when things go bad. She is to be congratulated for the courage she has shown in basically defying all the unwritten rules regarding suspected police malfeasance. It’s long overdue.
Why was there such an outpouring of sympathy for Freddie and outrage at the Baltimore Police? The first is easy. No one deserves to be treated – or not treated - the way Freddie was by the police. Period. The second reason is exactly the same as the first. But the second has an additional weight – we’ve seen too many of these incidents between the police and Black man – Walter Scott, twelve year old Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Charley Robinet who was homeless, and there are many more. And then there was Trayvon Martin who actually began what today become the first step in stemming the tide of officially sanctioned, yet bogus, violence against American citizens.
But stop and think for a moment why we know that Freddie didn’t have a switchblade knife, why we are aware that his spine was 80% severed, how we came to know that he had a long record of minor offenses and why we mourn his death. Had it not been for that person who just happened to be at the corner of North Avenue and Mount Street in West Baltimore who just happened to see and videotape the two police officers dragging Freddie Gray to that police van, the arrest and death of Freddie Gary would have gone unnoticed by everyone other than his family and loved ones. Kevin Moore, who shot the video and was arrested two days later by the Baltimore Police, did a great public service. But you have to think about how many other Freddie Gray’s around the country there must be, every day? every week? every month? where there was no one who just happened to be standing within camera range and whipped out a cell phone to record the Police in action.
No probable cause for the arrest of Freddie Gray. No probable cause for Freddie Gray’s death.